Webb Targets Drug-Sentencing Laws

By Alexa Ainsworth

Jun 19, 2008 3:41pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Alexa Ainsworth Report: Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D), the former Reagan Navy Secretary and Obama V.P. prospect, convened a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday to argue that the United States needs to focus on the demand for drugs if it wants to reduce its large prison population relative to other countries in the world.

"We are focusing on the numbers of people, the incredible growth of the prison population in the criminal justice system," said Webb. "I mention that we have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s known-prison population."

The impact of drug policy on the nation’s large prison population has been of sustained interest to Webb.

He devotes a chapter in "A Time to Fight," his new book, to what he considers the foolishness of mandatory drug-sentencing laws.

Joining Webb at Thursday’s hearing of the Joint Economic Committee was Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., who argued that the United States needs to redirect its drug-fighting efforts.

"The focus and the spending on supply really doesn’t do anything," said Hinchey. "The real issue is demand". 

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